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LaGrange Academy graduates 20 in person Friday

LaGrange Academy’s graduation Friday looked a little different than other years.  

Instead of families filling the rows of Callaway Auditorium to watch their loved ones take the stage, graduation was held outside at Overlook Plaza in downtown LaGrange. 

Only a handful of family members were allowed to attend for each student, and all rows of families were seated six feet apart. 

Pre-screening questions were sent to every family prior to the event and all attendees had their temperatures scanned before entering. 

Masks were required to be worn for the duration of the event, with the exception of speeches. 

With precautions in place, the show still went on. 

“In this most unprecedented time, unfortunately, we come together socially distanced, with masks, with sanitized hands and our temperatures checked,” said Headmaster Brian Dolinger.

“These precautions are necessary, as the health and safety of everyone here this evening is of great importance, but this virus will not keep us from honoring you tonight, and it will not define this evening or your futures. Tonight, is about these graduates and their accomplishments.” 

This year’s 2020 class valedictorian was Ujwal Modi and the salutatorian was Lily Kamat. 

“LaGrange Academy is a place that facilitates growth, inspires students and encourages them to make a difference in the world,” Kamat said. “With the support, instruction, and determination of our teachers, I think it’s safe to say that we are prepared for what the future holds.” 

Kamat said that even though times may be uncertain, their class is the generation of change. 

“This makes me even more excited to see what the future holds for all of us,” Kamat said. “We are the brightest, most determined and most skilled group that I know can change the world. When we see all of the events, problems and solutions to problems in the news, it is important to remember that the people behind those solutions were once sitting in caps and gowns on a stage waiting to receive their diploma, just like us. Moving forward, we have the responsibility to re-imagine the future of the United States and stand up for discrimination and injustices toward our fellow citizens.” 

Just like most high schooler seniors, Modi never thought his graduation would look like Friday’s did. 

“I have to say though, I think our class may go down as having the best senior skip day in history,” Modi joked. “As a class, we were going to skip school on March 16 and since then, we have not gone back to the academy as students. One skip day resulted in a quarter full of skip days. Our last few months of high school were far from usual.” 

Modi said even though the graduating class missed out on a lot of ‘lasts,’ they all were able to find a way to make up for it. 

“Payton perfected the art of making cinnamon rolls, Gillian enhanced her knitting skills, Kaushal learned how to play cricket and Jack and I shaved our heads: completely bald,” Modi said. “That being said, even when life around us went stagnant, we remained dynamic as we improved our current skills and tried new things. While the schools in the districts around us completely halted learning, LaGrange Academy remained resilient. The class of 2020 who already were admitted to colleges, remained resilient. Not only did we finish off the school year, we excelled.” 

As is the LaGrange Academy tradition, a teacher spoke on behalf of each of the 20 seniors graduating, whether virtually or in person. 

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dolinger said it was the students who taught them the most this year.  

“You have taught us resiliency, through your ability to continue to press forward when things are difficult. Thank you,” Dolinger said. 

“You have taught us creativity, in helping us complete the school year in a very different manner. Thank you. You have taught us humor, as was mentioned earlier, in successfully completing the best senior skip day ever. Thank you. And in recent weeks, your generation has taught us that empathy is the key to truly love others and re-shape our world into a better place for the over-looked, the marginalized and the forgotten. Thank you.”